Exeter WW2 bomb: Students told halls not safe for return

By Jonathan Morris
BBC News Online

image copyrightHannah Large
image captionBirks Grange is one of two Exeter University Halls damaged in the bomb blast

Some students evacuated to allow a bomb detonation have been told their damaged accommodation will not be safe for their return "for the rest of term".

Hundreds of University of Exeter students were moved when a World War Two bomb was detonated on 27 February.

The university said fewer than 250 students would have to stay elsewhere until at least 1 April.

One student said it was "really stressful because the only place you can call home has been taken away".

In an email the university told students: "Whilst we make the necessary arrangements to be able to offer you alternative university accommodation, you will need to remain in your temporary accommodation over the weekend and into next week".

image copyrightDevon and Cornwall Police
image captionThe Exeter bomb sent debris flying into nearby homes

It added that it will provide more information on Monday 8 March, and "will aim, where possible to keep you within your current households".

Detonation of the 2,200lb (1,000kg) German bomb in Exeter sent shrapnel, girders and debris flying into nearby buildings.

image copyrightMOD
image captionThe bomb was surrounded by metal cages filled with 400 tonnes of sand to reduce the impact of the explosion

On Thursday, some students were told "we do not expect you to be able to return to your original university accommodation for the rest of term".

The two halls affected are Birks Grange and Clydesdale, both of which were damaged in the blast.

image copyrightHannah Large
image captionBirks Grange repairs continue as evacuated students wait to be told their next move

First year English student Emily Parker Humphreys, who evacuated from Birks Grange to a city hotel, said: "It's really stressful because the only place you can call home has been taken away from you.

"It's gone and you don't know when you're going to return."

She had also found it "hard to concentrate" on her work because of the "not knowing where you are going to be living".

image captionProperties nearby were damaged in the controlled explosion on Saturday

The university said the "vast majority" of the evacuated students had returned to their original accommodation.

Ian Blenkharn, university director of education and support, said it had been a "challenging time for many students" and "full support" had been offered.

He added the students were unable to return to university halls or private residences "while safety works continue".

media captionAerial footage of Exeter bomb exploding

Bomb disposal teams destroyed the device in a 400-tonne "box" of sand in an explosion heard up to five miles (8km) away.

Exeter was heavily attacked by German bombers in 19 raids during World War Two, which saw more than 7,000 devices dropped, particularly in May 1942 during the Baedecker Raids.

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